ELK GROVE (CBS13) – With his turbulent life suddenly, unexpectedly extinguished, Rodney King’s mother is left to remember her son, his troubled past and his famous speech asking everyone to get along.
King, the man shown on videotape being beaten by Los Angeles police officers two decades ago, sparking a massive race riot, was found dead in the swimming pool of his Southern California home over the weekend.
His mother spoke to CBS13’s Derek Shore about the death of her son.
“I talked to Rodney Friday night,” she said.
It would be the last time Odessa King would ever speak with her son.
“I’m going to come down and see you Mom,” she said he told her. “I’ll see you soon. I love you.”
We sat down with Rodney’s mother in her Elk Grove home, a home he bought for her with part of the millions he was awarded in a civil lawsuit.
“Rodney loved people, and he loved to ask questions, and he would ask them,” she said.
Now his mother is left with questions about his death. His fiancée called 911 at 5:25 a.m. on Sunday after finding him at the bottom of his pool. Officers are investigating it as an accidental drowning, but toxicology results will take weeks to confirm.
King, 47, became famous after L.A. police officers were caught on tape beating him. When a jury failed to convict them in 1992, it sparked riots in the streets – more than 50 people would be killed and Rodney would make a famous speech to try to quell the violence.
“Can we, can we all get along?” he asked on television. “Can we get a long?”
“When he gave that speech, those were his words that were from his heart,” his mother said. “Some people laughed at him and some people made jokes out of him, but that was from his heart.”
Now as she mourns, his mother admits despite a big heart her son had problems in the 20 years that followed.
“I think due to the beatings, he had to cope with drugs, he had to cope to not walk in shame,” she said. “He was dealing with really a lot. Really a lot.”
She insists Rodney was a good son despite his problems with drugs and alcohol. She showed us a painting he bought for her just a few years after the riots, showing a mother caressing a young boy.
As for his death, she was asked if she’s suspicious.
“I basically don’t know, so I really can’t say, so I would certainly want to think the best,” she said.
She says through it all, their family will come together, rely on their faith and keep Rodney’s memory alive.
“Basically to remind people that justice to the people will come,” she said. “Regardless of what faith or what entitiy, we’re human.”